Data-driven decision-making. Research-based programming. Outcomes-based planning. Are these some familiar phrases around your library, school, or organization? Do you know how to incorporate research and data about teens into your library services and programming? The YALSA Research Committee’s new project is aimed at helping YALSA members make connections between research about teens and best practices for programming, services, and library advocacy.

This Fall, our committee been curating a collection of existing research related to the lives of young adults. This effort isn’t so much about finding data on young adults and library use, but if you are interested in research related more specifically to teens and libraries, technology, and literacy, be sure to review the most current YALSA Research Bibliography, annotated and organized according to the YALSA Research Agenda.

To complement the Research Bibliography, our committee searched for research and statistics on topics to help inform librarians and their work with teens.

Our topics — which our members tagged and organized via Google Doc — include college and career readiness, health, reading and literacy, LGBTQ resources, social media, alcohol and drug use. Here are a few examples:

National School Climate Survey
The 2011 Survey demonstrates a continued decline in anti-LGBT language over the years. The survey has consistently indicated that a safer school climate directly relates to the availability of LGBT school-based resources and support, including Gay-Straight Alliances, inclusive curriculum, supportive school staff, and comprehensive anti-bullying policies. Youth librarians in schools and in public libraries may employ this survey data to inform their interactions with young people, to contribute information to their organization’s policies on anti-bullying, and to shape programming, professional training, and collection development.

Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health
This is a project of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). Data of interest to youth librarians may include Physical Activity, age 6-17; Adequate amount of sleep, age 6-17; and Weight Status – BMI age 10-17. This may serve as a useful resource for youth librarians to know about and recommend to families, to guide collection development, and perhaps to integrate into programming in partnership with community organizations.

Our project is ongoing, and as part of the next steps in connecting research with library services to teens, we are hosting a Research Forum at ALA Midwinter (Friday, January 24, 3:00-4:00 PM) to present this project and facilitate discussion. How can you use research to guide your work with and for teens? We want to know! We also want to hear your questions about incorporating research data into your library program. Please join us, and check for project updates here and in the YALSA e-news!

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